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Clippers should monitor Draymond Green situation with Warriors

Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, Clippers, Warriors

The easiest thing for the Golden State Warriors to do this summer is agree to big extensions with the players who are eligible for extensions. Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Klay Thompson all become extension eligible on August 3rd, and all would love to get paid and remain with the Warriors. According to a recent report from The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson and Anthony Slater, that’s simply not a realistic expectation.

The tax bill from a team paying Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Jordan Poole max or even near-max money would be astronomical.

Draymond Green’s decline-and-extend at the max would mean declining the $27.5 million player option for the 2023-24 season and signing a four-year extension worth $164 million. Andrew Wiggins’ extension would reportedly have to start just under the $40.3 million. Jordan Poole is expected to garner a contract along the levels of Anfernee Simons (four-years, $100 million) and Jalen Brunson (four-years, $104 million), per The Athletic. Klay Thompson is reportedly the least likely Warrior to get an extension, especially since he has two years left with no options.

It’s a bit hard to predict who the Warriors value most out of this group. Andrew Wiggins was easily their second best player during the 2022 championship run. His playoff numbers didn’t jump off the page (16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.0 block per game), but Wiggins came up with crucial buckets while playing fantastic defense on Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum. Wiggins is only 27 years old and will be entering his prime, making him the most likely priority for the Warriors.

Jordan Poole showed flashes of being able to carry the offensive workload while Steph Curry was out. Curry went down early in the March 16th game against the Celtics and was forced to miss the final 12 games of the regular season. In that 13-game span including the game he suffered his injury, Poole averaged 26 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game.

As Curry was getting back into the swing of things in the first round of the playoffs, Poole averaged 28.7 points and 4.7 assists on 66.7 percent shooting from the field and 59.1 percent from three in Games 1-3 against the Denver Nuggets.

Klay Thompson is the second half of the Splash Bros, and the Warriors wouldn’t dare separate Steph Curry from Thompson. Now, one could also say the same thing about the sharpshooting duo and Draymond Green, but Green is a bit of an interesting case.

Green is owed $25.8 million in the 2022-23 season and has a player option for $27.6 million in the year after that. A decline and extend at the four-year max would pay 32-year old Draymond Green approximately 41 million from 2023-27. There’s no expectation that Green will be offered the 4-year, $164 million deal he’s reportedly believing to be worth.

Golden State Warriors, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Steph Curry

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In addition to that, The Athletic reports that while Green wants to continue his NBA career with Golden State, he’s not eliminating looking at other options.

“While his desire is to remain with the Warriors, Green is said to be willing to explore his outside options to get the kind of contract he wants. That’s a risk Warriors’ management appears willing to take. Green playing this season with a chip on his shoulder, motivated by proving to the league he deserves a max contact, could have a positive on-court impact.”

All this leads me to say that, while incredibly unlikely, the LA Clippers are a team that should monitor the Warriors’ situation, specifically when it comes to Draymond Green. This isn’t to say the Warriors have made him, or any of the four guys, available nor that the Clippers are pursuing him, but they should certainly watch and see how the negotiations play out.

In actuality, Green probably has the most value on the Warriors. It’s fair to say that the Warriors’ system has been successful because of Green and Green has been successful because of the Warriors’ system. Without each other, there’s a clear dropoff. When Green was unavailable to play, the Warriors clearly suffered on the court. It’s tough to make a case that there’s a player in more unique of a situation than Green is. That’s ultimately why I believe the Warriors and Green will meet somewhere in the middle on a new deal, not to mention it would probably anger a lot of Warriors fans to see him traded.

The Clippers have arguably the deepest roster in the NBA. There are guys on that team who absolutely deserve minutes and would likely be starters on different teams. Unfortunately, head coach Tyronn Lue may not always find the minutes for certain guys. On a team like this, that’s had to deal with as many injuries as they have, depth is not necessarily a bad thing. The Clippers’ plan for the 2022-23 season is to play it incredibly safe with their older players, mixing and matching lineups throughout the regular season.

The increased depth also means they’re a team that can afford to trade a few guys if it means they believe they’re getting back a legitimate piece to a championship puzzle. We all know the rumors that involve Clippers players on social media aren’t coming from the Clippers side. Nonetheless, two players have repeatedly had their names thrown around in trade rumors over the last year: Marcus Morris and Luke Kennard. It may not have led anywhere, but there certainly appears to be smoke in the Clippers at least gauging what they can get for the two players. Both had solid seasons in 2021-22, and I believe will be big pieces to the championship puzzle in 2022-23.

Clippers President Lawrence Frank effectively shut down trade scenarios involving Luke Kennard on NBA Draft night, saying there’s ‘zero truth’ to any of the trade rumors involving him. The team has also been incredibly complimentary of Marcus Morris, a guy they traded for back in 2020 that was thought to be the missing piece.

If you’ve heard me on podcasts or read my work in the past, you’ll know that I’m of the belief that the Clippers should run it back with the roster they have to start the season. They can then take a serious look at where they stand around the February trade deadline. If healthy, this team should be given the opportunity to finish the job in April, May, and hopefully June. There is a belief around the league, however, that the Clippers will eventually trade one or two of their guys because of the absurd depth they have.

As mentioned above, Draymond Green is set to earn $25.8 million in the 2022-23 season with a player option for the 2023-24 season worth $27.6 million.

The Warriors are going to be a tax-paying team no matter what they do, so they’re able to take back 125 percent of the total salary they’re sending out, plus $100,000. That means the Warriors can bring back a total of $33,258,086 in a trade for Green. The Clippers have a number of players that would fit into that $33.26 million number. A trade involving Marcus Morris and Luke Kennard would, in theory, work for both sides. If the Clippers want to add in a young player like a Brandon Boston, Jason Preston, or even a Terance Mann, it would technically still work contractually (although at that point, it’s probably reaching  overpay status).

Kennard finished the 2021-22 season as the best three-point shooter in the NBA. Morris was second in three-point shooting the year before that. Both have proven to be excellent complimentary pieces around on a team with championship contending team. One would imagine the pair intrigues the Warriors due to their low individual salaries and their skillset.

A trade for Green, who shares the same agency as Tyronn Lue and Brandon Boston Jr., would be with the intention of keeping him in Los Angeles long-term. Would it be the max deal he’s reportedly desiring, however? That’s the biggest question. The second biggest question would be how much does Green have left to help the Clippers in their championship window? It’s not over yet, but the Clippers’ championship window is shrinking the older Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, 31 and 32 years of age, respectively, get.

The 2022-23 season will be the fourth season of Leonard and George together in Los Angeles. The two have the ability to opt out of the final year of their deals after the 2023-24 season and become unrestricted free agents. If the Clippers don’t, at the very least, have an NBA Finals appearance under their belt in the next year or two, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an overhaul of the roster while continuing to try and build around Leonard and George.

Trading for a four-time NBA Champion in Draymond Green would only be in an attempt to extend the championship window and bring in legitimate title experience.

During the 2021-22 season, Green averaged 7.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game. he shot 52.5 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from three. His playoff numbers were eerily similar to his regular season numbers. But if you’re trading for Green, you’re not necessarily doing it for the front-facing numbers.

Statistically speaking, Green was once again one of the best defenders in the playoffs, per NBA.com/stats, holding opponents to just 38.7 percent shooting on shots where he was the primary defender. Green made life hell on Jaylen Brown in the NBA Finals en route to the Warriors’ fourth NBA Championship. Brown shot 10-of-34 from the field with Green as his primary defender, including just 1-of-15 from three. He had a similar impact on Jaren Jackson Jr., Luka Doncic, and Jalen Brunson. If you watched the 2022 postseason, you noticed Green’s prowess on that end, but probably also noticed that there were few times he slipped up defensively.

 

Green is a seven-time All Defensive Team member and the 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year. He did win the award in his age 26 season, and he’s certainly lost a bit of a step six years later. Regardless, he’s still one of the premier defenders at his position and a proven winner.

Additionally, the Clippers’ roster currently does not employ a traditional backup center. Marcus Morris and Robert Covington are both expected to get small ball center minutes behind Ivica Zubac. Green is a guy who has proven he can play the center position and excel at it. He’d still be undersized, but it would give the Clippers an interesting option.

With a team as loaded offensively as the Clippers, you’re not really worried about getting offense if Draymond Green is somehow added to the mix. His unwillingness to shoot the basketball drives fans nuts, and it the trouble really lies in him not being able to resemble an offensive threat. As mentioned above, he’s certainly dropped off from what he used to be, but a 33 or 34-year old Green might be worth it simply due to his high basketball IQ, his physicality, his skillset, and his experience.

The Clippers should be a top tier contender this season if they remain healthy. They’ve got all the depth in the world and a championship head coach that’ll do whatever it takes to win. Their roster, as constructed, has more than enough to be the last team standing.

If the Clippers were to shake up their roster, however, Draymond Green is exactly the type of player and person they’d want to bring in. Whether they actually have enough to make it happen or even want to make it happen are entirely different stories.